Maoists in West Bengal were marking their presence beyond Paschim Medinipur, Bankura and Purulia, the three districts currently identified as Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected areas, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said in the Assembly on Thursday.

He said the State was trying to increase the police presence in areas around the Jalangi river in Murshidabad, where reports of Maoist presence had been received. Such reports were also being received from Birbhum and South 24 Parganas.

“Police are keeping a vigil on people making suspicious movements and will take action as and when necessary,” he said in response to a question raised by a CPI(M) legislator regarding steps taken against the Maoists.

Plea to parties

Wondering how the extremists were holding meetings openly, Mr. Bhattacharjee appealed to the political parties to desist from any covert attempt to patronise them. He said it would be better if the parties coordinated among themselves to hold a meeting in the Jangalmahal area and establish better contact with the people.

He said the State had taken various steps to modernise the operational efficiency of the police force.

A special wing headed by a Deputy Inspector General (Operations) had been set up under the Criminal Investigation Department. A Counter Insurgency Force under an Inspector General (Operations) is set to start work soon. A Special Task Force set up under the Joint Commissioner of the City Police was also ready. Joint training programmes were being conducted with the help of the Army and the central agencies. Modern arms, armoured cars and other hi-tech equipment were being purchased, Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

Madan Tamang murder

On the murder of Madan Tamang, he said some people who were identified as being associated with the crime have fled to a neighbouring country. Some other steps had also been taken but he was not in a position to divulge details.

Earlier, replying to a question on the number of murders in West Bengal between January 1, 2009 and February 15, 2010, the Chief Minister said there were 26 political murders in this period and he wanted to call an all-party meeting to address the issue.

“Everyone should think seriously on this, but one of the opposition parties does not attend such meetings,” he said in an oblique reference to the Trinamool Congress.

He said the Congress attended such meetings.

Mr. Bhattacharjee said there were 2,284 murders and 2,516 cases of rape in West Bengal during this period. It also witnessed 1,755 cases of atrocities against women mainly on account of dowry-related issues.

He said crimes against women were increasing all over the country and there was need for serious thinking in this regard.

“Political parties and the state machinery alone cannot address the issue, other organisations need to step in too,” he said.

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